Colin Hay, the frontman of Men at Work, has hit out at Thursday's (Feb. 4) Federal Court of Australia ruling which saw the songwriter lose a high-profile copyright case over the band's '80s hit "Down Under."

Scottish-born Hay singled out Norm Lurie, the managing director of Sydney-based Larrikin Music Publishing, which instigated and won the lawsuit based on "opportunistic greed," he said.

A judge told the Federal Court in Sydney that Men At Work's international hit had reproduced a "substantial part" - namely the flute refrain -- from a 1930s children's campfire anthem, "Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree".

In a statement issued after the court verdict was delivered, Hay said the ruling was damaging for the creative community and that the action was "all about money, make no mistake."

Hay wrote, "What was born out of creative musical expression, became both a technical and mathematical argument. This ruling will have lasting repercussions, and I suspect not for the better."

In an open-letter, Hays admitted two bars of "Kookaburra" were "unconsciously referenced" in the Men At Work song, but that its use was "inadvertent, naive, unconscious, and by the time Men At Work recorded the song, it had become unrecognizable. It is also unrecognizable for many reasons."

He added, "I stand by my claim that the two appropriated bars of Kookaburra were always part of the Men At Work 'arrangement', of the already existing work and not the 'composition'."

A clearly dejected Hay concluded, "When I co-wrote Down Under back in 1978, I appropriated nothing from anyone else's song. There was no Men At Work, there was no flute, yet the song existed. That's the truth of it, because I was there. Norm Lurie was not, and neither was Justice Jacobson. 'Down Under' lives in my heart, and may perhaps live in yours. I claim it, and will continue to play it, for as long as you want to hear it."

The parties will meet again on Feb. 25 to begin talks on damages. Larrikin argues that costs in the region of 40% and 60% of royalties accrued by "Down Under" is "fair."